This weekend I undertook the interesting (to me) task of laying out all my me-made garments in preparation for my Me-Made-May challenge. I’ve never seen them altogether before, and was surprised to see how many ‘multiples’ I’d created. By that I mean garments that used the same pattern for their creation, either ‘straight up’ or with modifications. The realisation was forced upon me that if I have made a garment that I deem even a half-success, nine times out of ten I’ll make another. The second (or third etc.) version will be in a different fabric and usually with some alteration for improved fit and/or to create an alternative style (this post is illustrated with multiple versions I’ve made to help explain).
Let me break it down. Maybe you’ve gone to the effort of making a toile/muslin to achieve a well fitting garment, or maybe (if you’re anything like me) you’ve gone straight ahead with your ‘good’ fabric with plans to approach any necessary alterations as you go. Either way, you have battled potentially confusing instructions, figured out how to the 2D pieces fit together to make a 3D object and in what order and probably learnt a fair few lessons along the way. You’ve come out the other side with a new garment, is it not a natural reaction to make another? I’m not talking about necessarily back-to-back projects from the same pattern (though has anyone done that?). But, wouldn’t it be nice to undertake a project that you KNOW doesn’t contain any nasty unexpected fit problems or morale-reducing construction-based frustrations?
However, is this reaction the norm? Do all sewers make the majority of their projects at least twice? Personally, when I plan my next sewing project, the decision to try a new pattern or radically alter one compared to remaking a tried and tested one is the equivalent of deciding if I want to watch a challenging documentary or an enjoyable but predictable feel-good movie. There’s certainly the right and wrong times for each.
But maybe I’m a more extreme case. As soon as I see a pattern I like, my mind automatically starts to mull over all the variations I could extract from it before I’ve even bought the damn thing! And my interest in this extends to other people’s creations too. When I saw Cecili from Sewing and Sew On‘s beautiful Simplicity dress created from a vintage pattern that she worked hard to perfect, I immediately left her a comment as I had the uncontrollable urge to know if she was going to make it again. She responded that she was going to make another with an alternate sleeve, and upon reading this I felt a giant ‘YES!’ rush through me! Is that wierd?
Of course you can tweek, alter and modify a pattern so much that the results are virtually unrecognisable from the original design. But how many times is too many times? My personal record for making variations is using Simplicity 3835 seven times! And I must admit I have at least one more variation in the pipeline. (Actually, this range of patterns has its own own Flickr group, like the Colette Patterns’ one!) Can anyone beat seven? I think when you remove much of the challenge from a sewing project’s construction, you automatically replace it with a new challenge: ‘How many times can I make variations of this pattern before somebody notices and says something?!’
Flickr groups, Burdastyle’s project archive, Pattern Review and the Colette Patterns gallery are awesome sources for seeing other people’s interpretations of a pattern that you own or are interested in. But for me, what with my apparent multiple-pattern-variation obsession (MPV for short?), these sources can lead me into obsessive overdrive with all the options and possibilities presented. I feel this post has been cathartic, thank you for your time. What would make this therapy truly successful is to find out I am not the sole bearer of this affliction!